A year ago AEDC predicted Anchorage would lose another 1,000 jobs in 2018, mainly in the support sector, as the multiplier effects of previous years’ losses rippled through the economy. The final accounting of Anchorage employment in 2018 will likely place the loss at about 1,200 jobs, including 600 jobs in the retail sector. Anchorage also saw further losses in the professional and business services sector (down 600 jobs) and government (down about 500 jobs). Yet again health care was there to ease the pain, adding another 500 jobs to a remarkable period of growth that now totals 3,000 new jobs over the past five years and more than 5,000 new jobs over the past ten years. There is also good news from the construction sector, which turned a corner in 2018, adding jobs for the first time since 2015. The sector showed a 3 percent uptick (about 200 jobs) in employment in 2018.
The loss of 1,200 jobs in 2018 was not good news, but it was an improvement from 2017, when Anchorage lost 2,100 jobs, and from 2016, when the local economy shed 2,900 jobs. The trajectory of employment is in the right direction and 2019 is expected to reflect continuing improvement. As described in this forecast, further decline is likely in some sectors, but another strong year for the visitor industry, still more health care-related growth, a bump in construction employment, and other forces should tip the scales into positive territory, if only slightly.
AEDC expects Anchorage employment to trend up slightly in 2019, with a net increase of 300 jobs. While this employment forecast reflects some optimism for 2019, the state’s $1.6 billion budget deficit looms large. A misstep in how that deficit is managed could easily push Anchorage employment trends back into negative territory.
This employment forecast begins with an overview of a few key indicators, including population, unemployment rate, and rate of inflation. Then the 2019 employment outlook is described for each key sector of the local economy. The forecast concludes with a few big-picture thoughts about the outlook for Anchorage’s economy.